What is child abuse? Child abuse is not only the physical abuse that children suffer from the hands of their abuser or from abusive parents. Child maltreatment of children involves other forms of abuse that are not physical. Parents, teachers, caregivers and other children can be accused or charged with some form of child abuse. Professionals should be able to recognize the signs of child abuse and report any suspicion of child abuse to the authorities.
Child abuse comes in many forms, and the definition of each form may vary. Sometimes recognizing the signs of child abuse is not easy, if individuals do not know what to look for. Abusers are clever at hiding their crimes toward children. However, more and more laws are in place to help child abuse prevention, and to help children overcome child abuse. Child abuse puts children in danger of being physically, mentally and emotionally at risk for severe injuries or even death. The effects of child abuse lead to run away from home, or take their own lives. The abuse can be so awful that children feel there is no way out, or that no one cares or that no one can help them.
Child abuse is not a hopeless situation. State protection agencies help thousands of abused children leave their abusers and find shelter in foster care, with family members or through adoption. The most obvious and most common types of child abuse are; physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. All of these forms of child abuse are against the law. Abusers find many ways to torture, punishment, injure and eventually kill helpless and innocent children.
Anyone who knows of any children who are being hurt in any way can report the crime of child abuse to the nearest authorities. Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can contact the Child help National Child Abuse Hotline at 1800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453. Someone is always available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Some Signs of Child Abuse are Hard to Ignore
One of the most common forms of child abuse is child neglect. What is neglect and what is child neglect? Child neglect can be difficult to recognize, because the signs are not as visible or noticeable as physical abuse. Child neglect is a clear pattern or choice of not providing the basic essential needs of children. The main five basics are proper supervision, a place to live, personal hygiene care, proper fitting weather appropriate clothing, and food. Sometimes neglect is not intentional. It could be from the result of a parent or guardian losing a job, or becoming too ill or mentally incapable to provide for the children in their care.
Neglected children often hide their disappointment, especially if they are older. These children are often more mature than their actual age, due to them taking on the role of their parent’s. They normally care for themselves and for their parents, if there are signs of alcohol and drug abuse taking place in the home. Children who suffer from neglect might experience emotional or psychological abuse.
Here are a few noticeable signs of child abuse and neglect:
Emotional problems such as loneliness or sadness are part of child neglect. Children who are neglected are not happy at all. They are often afraid, nervous, depressed, aggressive, withdrawn, sad, lonely, and tired. In some instances, children often revert or regress back to an earlier period in their lives. They might start to urinate or pooh in their clothes, cry all the time, shy away from strangers, suck their thumbs, murmur their words, and develop a fear of the dark. Some emotional problems are easy to recognize, and may be followed by crying spells, inappropriate language, inability to make friends, eating lunch alone, and not wanting to play with other children.
Dirty clothes and uncombed hair is another sign. Caregivers do not provide proper care for the children that are in their care. They often come to school wearing dirty and smelly clothing. They may also be missing a jacket or sweater in the wintertime, and they might be wearing too little or out of season clothing. Although, these are the most obvious signs, other signs of neglect include a bad body odor, which indicate the child has not had a bath and eating out of the trashcans. Neglected children do not eat regularly. They usually eat out of the garbage cans or eat straps of food others leave behind. This is a clear indication of a child that is not eating at all, or is not eating regularly.
Children out late at night unsupervised. Children should have a set time to be back at home. Children, of abuse often care for themselves. This means they are out late at night roaming the streets, and possibly getting into trouble with the law. Neglected children do not have any or they might have limited adult supervision at home. Neglected children who have no curfew, often gets in trouble with law enforcement for shoplifting. They take food from stores, because they are hungry and clothing because they do not have any decent attire to wear.
Late or missing too much school. This is a red flag for teachers and school administration. Children that often arrive late to school, or do not show up to school for days in a row, could fall in the category of neglect. Some children are responsible for finding their own clothes or for finding their own way to school. School officials might not get a response back from parents, after sending out numerous notices to the parents. When truancy officers arrive at the home, they might not find the parents at home, or the parents might be alcoholics, or otherwise busy with other illegal activities. Another type of abuse that children endure is sexual abuse.
Denial of medical or dental care is another form of child abuse. Many children are sick and are in need of medical and dental care, which the abuser constantly denies them from receiving. Not receiving life sustaining medical attention is against the law. Children with medical conditions and dental concerns need to see the doctor and the dentist to ensure good health, and healthy gums and teeth.
Sexual Abuse is Dominant among Both Girls and Boys
Symptoms of sexual abuse most often shows up in the most unpleasant ways. Children who are victimized might contract an STD where is not normal for children who are not mature. Signs may include gonorrhea in the mouth or throat. This can be an indication, that children are performing oral sex against their will. In some cases, STDs are present in the vagina or annual area, depending on where the act the abuser is penetrating the children.
Sexual abuse goes on a lot in most family structures. Family members or strangers often manipulate children or place them in a position to have sex in exchange for food clothing or other life sustaining necessities. Children who are victims of sex abuse cannot help but to display, one or more outward signs of sexual abuse. The symptoms are obvious to anyone who knows that certain behaviors that children display are not normal behaviors. For instance, children will often pull away from certain adults like males or females, depending on the gender of their abuser. This depends on the sex gender of the perpetrator.
Emotional distress is often associated with sexually abuse children. Emotional, symptoms can include feeling of guilt, confusion, and shame. Children in this type of abusive atmosphere are often too embarrassed to let anyone know what is going on. This is especially true if the abuser is a family member, a family member, a caregiver, or a parent. Children who show great fear of their parents or certain other adults are giving some indication of whom the abuser may be. Other adults should notice the signals, and behaviors children exhibit when certain adults are around. Other signs are withdrawn and not wanting to hang out with friends, not wanting to participate in usual activities or also wanting to be alone.
Physical Abuse is Not Difficult to Prove
Physical abuse is hard to hide, no matter how hard children try to deny it. Children who experience physical abuse will show some signs of physical injuries on their bodies. Some injuries are in areas where parents or others are sure, that the children will not expose. These areas include the breast, the chest, the buttocks, and the head, under the arm, the thighs, the stomach, and the back. An abuser is often careful not to leave any noticeable marks. However, abusers who are out of control or have no self discipline may leave noticeable and visible marks behind that are difficult or impossible to hide.
Unexplained bruises and injuries are definitely red flag indicators of possible physical abuse. These signs may include blacken eyes, swollen lips, missing teeth, bite marks, burn marks, scratches, unexplained injuries and bruises. There are only so many times that children can fall down a flight of stairs, or break an arm or a leg. Too many suspicious injuries, or illness, too many late days to school or too many absentees are too many red flags. Any of these scenarios should be cause for concern, by a school official or by the Department of Children’s Protective Unit.
It could be that some children are clumsy or accident-prone. However, it is appropriate for anyone who suspect children are the victim of child abuse to report their suspicions to the proper authorities for further investigation. It is always best to protect the interest of children, even if the allegations prove to be unfounded. Sometimes bullies leave the sign marks on their victims, which is still physical abuse.
Blood clothing or underpants are sure signs of physical, sexual or a more severe type of child abuse. Children who have been sexual abused, especially boys, and girls may have bloodstains in their underwear. However, bloody underwear does not necessarily add up to sexual abuse. It can be an indication of physical abuse such as a beating with belts, shoes, or extension cords. Pulling down the pants and examining the area will reveal whether or not the genitals show any signs of sexual or physical abuse.
Changes in behavior such as rebellion, hostility, aggression, hyperactivity, poor school performance, and bitterness are classic symptoms, which should raise more than one red flag. All children show their pain in different ways. Therefore, not all children will show the same signs at the same time. Some children may show other signs that indicate they are in a sexually abusive household or situation. Such signs may include depression, reluctant to return home, and attempting to run away from home on more than one occasion. Children, who want to be any place but home, may have a fear of going back home and facing the same type of abuse time after time.
How to Help Children of Child Abuse
Millions of children worldwide fall victim to child abuse each year. The majority of these children live in the same household with their abusers. Teachers, doctors, and caregivers are in a unique position to help the children they encounter, by reporting any suspicion of child abuse. Teachers should be aware of the signs of child abuse such as physical, emotional, medical, and sexual abuse.
Responsibilities of Teachers in Reporting Child Abuse
Teachers get to see children on a regular basis. They are aware of any changes in children behaviors, moods, and mental state. Too many absences, excessive tardiness, always hungry, wearing in proper clothing in winter and summer months, aggressive behavior such as anger, inappropriate verbal outbursts, crying spells, sadness, always wanting to sit or play alone, not talking or refusing to participate in any school activities, poor grade performance, unexplained bruises, untreated injuries, wearing dirty clothing, and withdrawing from friends.
Doctors Follow the Same Rules by Reporting Any Suspicion of Any Form of Child Abuse
Children displaying any of these signs should send out a red flag to adults, who work in close proximity with children. Doctors are always in a position to see firsthand the type of physical abuse children have on their bodies. Doctors can tell how old an injury is, and how children got the injury. Whether or not an accident is the cause of a certain type of injury, or if an object, a fall, or a person is the cause. A doctor can answer these questions following a complete and thorough physical examination.
Some children are afraid to admit that their injuries are the result of being intentionally hurt. They fear that the abuser will come after them again, and the punishment of abuse will be worse. Doctors are to contact the nearest law enforcement office or child protective agency and report any suspicions or any evidence of child abuse.
Babies are Victims of Child Abuse As Well and Should Be Protected
Babies are innocent, precious, and just beginning to live. It is hard and sad to believe, but babies suffer from the same form of child abuse as older children, often referred to as baby abuse. Many babies suffer irreversible brain damage, after their parent or caregiver constantly shakes them excessively. The name for this type of child abuse is shaken baby syndrome. Shaken baby syndrome victims are children ages 0 to 12 months. The most common form of this abuse has seen in children ages 3 to 8 months old. However, uncommon, but the shaken baby syndrome can affect children up to 5 years of age.
The abuser inflicts trauma to the head of the baby by hitting the baby on the head with a fist, a hand, or an object. In some cases, if the child continues to cry or make noise, the abuser takes the child’s head and shakes it excessively, until the child is quiet. What the abuser does not know is that the child will continue to cry, due to the injuries in the head, or the child may stop crying altogether.
The crying stops, not because the child is afraid, it is because the child’s brain is hurting. Child abuse statistics show that 60% of shaken baby syndrome children are males. Children who live in poverty areas, where families are in stressful situations, often suffer the most. The mother is not often the abuser. It is the father or perhaps the mother’s boyfriend.
What Happens When the Baby’s Head is Forcibly Shaken
Babies are fragile and delicate. Their bodies and especially their brains are still developing. When the head is shaking from side to side, or backwards and forwards this puts a strain on the head and the neck. Because the muscles are too weak to support the force of the baby’s head vigorously moving back and forth the blood vessels erupt, the brain tissues experience tearing and the skull receives areas where bleeding and bruising occurs. This causes severe swelling in the brain, and an enormous amount of pressure inside the skull. Shaken baby syndrome causes irreversible damage, or even death. For these reasons alone, no one should never, shake babies and children under no circumstances. statistics on child abuse is available on Childhelp and similar websites.